Police hit out at plans for underpass as part of Northumberland Line in Ashington

Opponents of plans for a “soul-destroying” underpass in Ashington have been given a major boost after concerns were raised by Northumbria Police.

By James Harrison
Monday, 25th October 2021, 5:24 pm
Northumbria Police have raised concerns about a proposed underpass as part of the Northumberland Line.
Northumbria Police have raised concerns about a proposed underpass as part of the Northumberland Line.

The proposals, part of the wider Northumberland Line rail project, have prompted fears of a surge in crime in the area.

And, with development chiefs at Northumberland County Council preparing to make a decision on the crossing, officers have revealed their own worries about the impact it could have.

“We are aware that not all incidents are reported to the Police and note there is a significant level of crime and disorder in the area, so concerns amongst local residents is understandable,” the force said in a formal response to the scheme.

“We consider there to be some fundamental issues of necessity that haven’t been either communicated well enough during consultation nor indeed fully explored to the satisfaction of the community.

“There can be no question as to the necessity for the removal of the surface crossing from a health and safety perspective.

“However, given the potential for a new subway being a crime generator and a sheltered area of concealment that is close to a residential area, we are less convinced with the argument that there had to be a replacement crossing at this location.”

If approved, the plans would see the existing Hospital Level Crossing replaced with an underpass.

Plans for a new station at Ashington, north of the controversial crossing, were approved in September.

County councillor for Ashington, Caroline Ball, who has helped organise opposition to the proposals, said: “I’m really impressed with what the police have said about the plans.

“It’s not just the residents [who think this is a bad idea] and this feels like this has validated the comments of the residents.

“When the police say these things it comes with a bit of clout.

“[As the police said] the unanswered question is do we actually need the crossing to be there and what is the justification for it?”

A spokesman for Northumberland County Council said: “The matter will be decided by a public planning committee with elected members making the decision on merit, and weighing up the issues, both positive and negative.

“They are entitled to make any decision – approve, refuse, or require changes.”